Eastern Arab media neglects the Maghreb

Mostly, the eastern Arab media looks at their region as the centre of events, perhaps because it is close to hot spots such as the Palestinian Occupied Authority.

It is noticeable that the eastern Arab media is very reluctant to report on the Maghreb, ignoring the fact that what is going on in the Maghreb countries can also affect their own region, observed Hazem Mubaidheen in an opinion piece for the Jordanian newspaper Al Rai. It is not known how many observers in the eastern Arab world follow the issues of the Maghreb. "Mostly, the eastern Arab media looks at their region as the centre of events, perhaps because it is geographically close to hot spots such as the Palestinian Occupied Authority, and because of the legacy of a long struggle against the Israeli occupation.

However, the eastern media overlooks the fact that the Maghreb countries fought along Arab troops in both wars of 1967 and 1973. In addition, they once hosted the Fatah headquarters. Moreover, the Maghreb's population almost equals that of the East, and has a high Arab nationalist spirit as well. Other facts, perhaps, unknown to many in the eastern Arab world is that the Maghreb is witnessing a remarkable cultural movement as seen in the size of their publications, which probably outstrips those in the East. But all these attributes are not made known by the eastern media, which continues to consider that what happens at home is what deserves to be reported to the outside world."

"The Turkish prime minister Recep Erdogan directly warned Israel about its attitude towards Lebanon and Gaza. He also made it clear that his country would not be involved in a campaign against Iran and its nuclear programme," wrote Satea Nourredine in an opinion piece for the Lebanese daily Al Safeer.  Although Mr Erdogen did not announce which measures his government would take, his Justice and Development Party (AKP) and also a larger section of the population seem to be very supportive of their government's position. Such rising Turkish opposition towards Israel reflects a strong desire by Turkey to restore its identity and consolidate further its foreign policy of turning towards the East.

There is yet a constant concern that the Turkish Islamic government may run the risk of trespassing the red lines watched over by the army and the secular establishment, which is very connected to the West and Israel. However, it is believed, the AKP is enjoying wide popularity and is seen as the locomotive of the economic progress that Turkey has achieved. The renewed Turkish hostility towards Israel cannot be seen from any other geopolitical context, such as Turkish ambition to overtake the role of Egypt and Saudi Arabia or to establish a Sunni front against Iran. It is also wrong to say that Turkey is aspiring for a leading role in the Arab and Muslim world.

"Has the e-book become a fashion, a necessity, or simply an option among many?" asked Muraei Halyan in a comment piece featured in the UAE newspaper Al Bayan. The closest answer should be the last. The technology has allowed for storing a large amount of information on a compact disc that can be carried and read at the reader's convenience. The whole concept of a library has changed, and its actual space has shrunk into a small, slim laptop. But this is not the issue. "What I would like to suggest is what people consider a revolution against the paper book is in fact an overblown claim. I am not against converting a massive library into a tiny chip, but the traditional book has its own qualities and reading its pages is an experience of its own."

Considering the e-book as a replacement of the outdated medium of the paper book is a shortsighted view. "Having said this, I am not rejecting technology, nor am I living in a dark cave, unlikely to browse through the content of a CD. I just wonder about the attitude of companies when they produce CD content and how they celebrate it for being such an outstanding achievement. I also wonder how many of us have been given an e-book as a present, but barely read it, and how many more of us felt happy when they received a book and felt the immediate urge to read it."

The Saudi newspaper Al Watan considered in its editorial that warm Saudi-Syrian relations would promote unity among Arab countries. The visit of the Syrian President Bashar al Assad to Riyadh and his meeting with King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz helped the Arab reconciliation launched by the Saudi monarch at the Kuwait economic summit held last year. It is clear, though, that there are pending issues on the Syrian-Egyptian track that still challenge the progress of a real Palestinian reconciliation. Many political circles believe that Saudi Arabia is actively working on easing the tension between Egypt and Syria. Riyadh is also eager to see the Palestinians overcome their own differences soon. For this reason, Saudi Arabia believes it is important that major regional countries meet and discuss ways to promote a single unified Arab position that would serve Arab issues, primarily the Palestinian cause.

"This newspaper believes, therefore, that increasing contacts would help Arab countries overcome their internal problems, because the Arab national spirit has never died. The recent diplomatic actions in major Arab capitals proves the strong will to restore Arab unity so as to protect the Arab nation and guarantee its stability." * Digest compiled by Mostaspha Elmouloudi @Email:melmouloudi@thenational.ae